Day By Day

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Obama the Reactionary

Richard Fernandez argues that President Obama is confronting the problems of today with a set of ideas more appropriate to the world of half a century ago. He writes:
The fundamental weakness with President Obama’s theory of racial healing and social progress is that has assumed that America would always have the means to pay for its grand ambitions. With the arrow of redistribution flowing along racial lines from the relatively well-off whites to the latinos and blacks, ‘progressive politics’ in a depression may just be another word for “division and tension between black and white Americans”. When it became clear that Obama would not — could not — fix the economy; and when it became clear who was going to pay the bill for his social engineering, his supported melted away. President Obama doesn’t have a racial problem. He has an economic and ideological problem with racial dimensions.

The problem is that his governing mental model may be founded in a lost world — in the Marxist critiques of the 1960s and 70s. It may have been forged at a time when Americans seemed obscenely prosperous in comparison to the denizens of the Third World. They were harmless eccentricities at the time. Today, in a globalized world where China, not America is on track to become the greatest consumer in the world; in a world where Americans and Britons pose as Filipinos to get jobs, it is nothing short of disastrous.  His old categories of race and privilege and noblesse oblige are survivals from a bygone age. President Obama has made much of being the harbinger of the future. On the contrary, he may turn out to be a relic from the past.
 Read it here.

He's right. Much has changed both domestically and internationally since the 1960s, but Obama seems not to have noticed. He is the product of fossilized academic and activist institutions hopelessly mired in the past and, because of their antagonistic stance toward mainstream American culture, resistant to change. The self-proclaimed agent of progressive change is, in fact, a dyed-in-the-wool reactionary.

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